A door in Real Alcazar.

“Real Alcazar” sounds like a magic spell. In fact it’s a stunningly beautiful palace in central Seville.

The Alcazar was originally a Moorish fort and remains an amazing example of Moorish architecture even with numerous frills and changes added by later Christian rulers. It’s a great testament to the sophistication and complexity of the Muslims who ruled Southern Spain until the late 1400s.

Ceiling.

The Palace is quite hard to navigate as it’s a warren of rooms, often with multiple entrances and exits. Many rooms have fountains in them and they are all decorated in complex geometric shapes crafted from tiles. Even the ceilings are often wonderfully wrought, although many of the ceiling decorations were later additions.

Baths.

The Palace itself leads naturally out into a series of walled gardens filled with flowers, trees and ponds. There is a formal labyrinth at the far end of the gardens where we had a great time chasing about until I came into conflict with a low-hanging branch (I lost).

Alcazar garden.

Even when filled with tourists the Alcazar is a cool and calm environment. The rooms capture the natural breezes and everywhere there is water and garden vistas.  The decorations are calming and timeless in a way which a representative painting cannot be. One of the things I find interesting is that the beauty is largely internal; from the street the building is not so remarkable, but once you get inside into the living and working areas it glows. It clearly wasn’t, however, designed to project power to the people outside its walls. I’m not certain what that says but it is a different style of architecture to that evidenced in the palaces across Christian Europe.

It was good we had a calm and fun morning because the rest of the day proved a bit frustrating. The queues for the Cathedral defeated us twice and we had to walk miles and miles to find an open supermarket. We’re still not sure if there was some sort of supermarket holiday today or the advertised opening hours are just a broad indication to keep tourists on their toes. But you can imagine the scene – hot day, hungry tired kids, busy streets and no clear end in sight. It’s not all roses out here in the world, but seeing places like the Alcazar really makes any effort worthwhile.